Composer Mithoon suddenly discovered a leading riff from his beloved tune ‘Tum Hi Ho’ in the film Aashiqui 2 being ripped off by American rapper T-Pain in a song called ‘That’s Yo Money’. Instead of apologizing, Mr Pain responded with a sniggering tweet about waking up to a ‘brown tweet’. Well, the browns are not taking this lying down.
Pain coming up for T-Pain?
My perspective on the issue is quite clear. I’ve to admit the similarity between my song and T-Pain’s track took me by surprise. ‘Tum Hi Ho’ is a globally recognized Indian melody. My intention was to just to bring the similarity to his notice.
Your objection to the similarity was so well worded and he responded so impertinently?
I’ve to be true to who I am. My culture has taught me to be civil and polite.
He referred to your very polite objection to his plagiarism as a “brown tweet”?
I’d like to believe he didn’t mean to offend. I wouldn’t like to comment on that aspect of his response. All I will say is, I am very proud of my ethnicity. And after the kind of progress we’ve made as global citizens, we should be focusing on the music, not the colour of the skin. This is not the way we should be dealing with an issue as serious as this. I am even willing to believe that he hadn’t heard my song.
Hard to believe?
I am not one of those arrogant artistes who believes the world has heard my song.
What kind of a musician artiste just takes any riff that’s given to him without checking its source?
That’s my point. I think there should be more accountability about where music samplings come from. I look at this as an opportunity to reach out. If they had reached out to me and my producers, T Series with the request for permission to use a melody. If an artiste reaches out to me or the music company and asks, ‘I want to use your riff to rap over it’ that would be such a wonderful collaboration.
Then it becomes a celebration of creativity?
Exactly. I feel good creative work is not owned by any one person. If tomorrow I like something by someone that I want to use, I’ll take the proper legal consent.
So how are you dealing with this illegal snatch?
My company T series is taking all the legal action required. I am so happy they’re taking the proper route, the video was blocked on Youtube and now legal action is being taken. This must and should be handled with grace. My reach-out was from one artiste to another. On that level, I was willing to believe he hadn’t heard my song. Hamare desh ki mitti mein itna sangeet hai, abhi duniya ne suna bhi nahin hai. We have so much to give as musicians. Let’s be proud of that. Just take film music. We have stalwarts like C Ramachandra and Madan Mohan. Each of the composers from the 1950s and 60s has given so much to the world of music. We don’t need to borrow from the West. We can give so much.
Hindi film music is now going through a lean phase as actors are no longer seen lip-syncing songs on screen?
That’s why appreciated Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil where Ranbir Kapoor has done such a wonderful job of lip-syncing to Arijit Singh’s voice. I am now composing music for a Ranbir starrer Shamshera for Yash Raj Films. It’s dacoit drama directed by Karan Malhotra.
Your uncle Pyarelal and his partner Laxmikant have composed fantasic music for dacoit dramas like Mera Gaon Mera Desh and Kachche Dhaage?
I can’t hope to equal them. But, I won’t disappoint you.
What other exciting sounds can we expect from you in 2019?
I am doing the music of an American film called The Least Of These. It’s an Indian story shot in India. After seeing the narrative, they decided to record some songs in Hindi for the international market as well. I’ve already recorded the songs. They will be released in February 2019.